14 May, 2020
How is Covid-19 Reshaping the Future of Education?
This informal CPD article on How is Covid-19 Reshaping the Future of Education was provided by Wallencore, a Canadian-based company providing a range of cybersecurity services and solutions.
In a matter of weeks, the novel coronavirus has radically changed everyday operations, including here, how the teaching process continues worldwide. Education institutions of any size and type community colleges, universities, vocational schools, Ivy League institutions, and many others have been required to move their classes online. Hence, facing important decisions on finding the ultimate approach to smoothly transition the process of learning while still maintaining the desired quality.
COVID-19 is still unveiling uncertainties; however, indications suggest that the innovative approaches of teaching utilized during this pandemic could have a permanent impact on the trajectory of digitization of the education system. Thus, giving us a more insightful impression of what to expect in the long run. Below we will analyze three trends that could indicate future transformations in the education system.
Forced to change, education can experience unexpected innovations
Overall, the education system has a slow pace of change being bound for a long time to a specific timeframe and location, with the professor at the center of attention. Online learning, on the other hand, has historically carried a stigma of providing lower quality education, despite considerable research suggesting otherwise. However, as about 1.7 billion learners have been affected by school closure, the novel coronavirus has become a catalyst to explore innovative education solutions in a relatively short time, as a result digital education is proving its value to the world.
Creative solutions to education have been witnessed around the world. Aiming to contain the spread of the virus, students in China and Bangladesh are accessing the learning material through live television broadcasts on national TVs, whereas in Hong Kong students are using interactive apps to continue the learning process.
Other modest solutions, yet no less creative, have been implemented in other countries. In the U.S. schools, standard online learning tools as Google Classroom or Zoom are being used by students to keep track of the learning as well as maintain the virtual face-to-face communication.
Likewise, students in Lebanon began exploiting digital learning, even for classes such as physical education. Students have been recording and submitting videos of their athletic activity or sports to their teachers, thus pushing them to develop even more their technological skills.
Moreover, with 5G technology becoming accessible in countries like the United States, China, Japan, and some regions of Europe, we will witness students and solution providers embracing the concept of e-Learning in a variety of formats. As such, even when these uncertain times pass, conventional learning will maintain a sense of innovation while being complemented with new learning modalities. Thereby, we hope to see learning becoming an integrated habit of our everyday routine.
Partnerships between public and private education institutions could grow in importance
With the coronavirus taking a global scale, we have seen many learning associations take place. Such have been involving different stakeholders like government agencies, universities, publishers, professors, technology, and network providers joining their forces to employ digital learning platforms as a temporary answer to the health crisis. In developing economies where education is primarily provided by the government, this shift could become a prevalent and substantial course for the future of the education system.
The Chinese Ministry of Education, for instance, has gathered a diverse group of professionals to develop a new cloud-based and broadcasting platform to provide the necessary learning resources for students. Likewise, Hong Kong has created an association of over 50 educational organizations, media, publishers, and entertainment professionals, contributing with more nearly 1000 educational assets, including here book chapters, videos, evaluation tools, and consultative services all free of charge. The association aims to continue using and maintaining the digital learning platform even after the virus has been contained.
In the past few years, we have already seen far more prominent investments coming from the private sector in innovative education solutions. From Google and Microsoft in the United States to Alibaba in China and Samsung in Korea, big corporations are responding to the strategic imperative of an educated society. Despite most initiatives having been limited in scope and almost isolated in impact, the coronavirus pandemic could break the ice for much larger-scale, cross-industry collaborations to be formed around a shared educational goal.
Closing the technology gap
When learning moved from the physical classrooms to home at the onset of the coronavirus, a learning gap immediately emerged. Stay-at-home directives aim to minimize the spread of the virus that has forced millions of learners worldwide to move to online classes. However, two essential components are interfering with online education, namely internet connection and digital devices such as desktops, laptops, or tablets. As such, the coronavirus has exposed the discrepancies in household incomes for effective distance learning.
While inequality in household resources presents an enormous obstacle for students, families, and educators, many private and public entities have acknowledged the gap and are working hard towards providing each student with the necessary means to smoothly continue their learning process. Many schools and universities have been distributing laptops to students in need, while internet providers have been offering free service to less privileged households.
In the United States, the Loudoun County Public Schools purchased around 15,000 laptops to support distance learning, and distributed them during a drive-by pickup event. The government of New Zealand, on the other side, included providing 70,000 learners with internet access and technological devices in case of schools’ closure as part of its emergency plan.
Similarly, the Italian Ministry of Education, which is one of the most severely affected countries, has distributed around 45,000 tablets throughout the country to support less privileged learners, who otherwise would not be able to continue studying.
Based these examples, and many others happening around the world it is safe to say that the pandemic has deeply exposed the inequalities with societies, however, in terms of technological devices many entities are giving their contribution to bridging the gap in resources, so each student has the opportunity to access distance learning.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus has shown the importance of developing the necessary infrastructure to cope with different threats, from pandemic diseases to armed conflict to climate change.
The pandemic is also a chance to think about the skills students need in this uncertain environment such as creative problem solving, active decision making, and perhaps most importantly, adaptability. In order to ensure that those skills continue to be a priority for all students, resilience must also be integrated into the educational systems.
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